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I have recently taken up residence in a Co-operative house here in the lovely City of Lights, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and as I delve into life with 40+ other slobby college students, it has come to my attention that most people don't seem to know how to clean a fucking bathroom. Cleaning a bathroom involves more than Windex and paper towels. It involves more than wiping down the mirror and spilling blue shit in the toilet bowl. This is apparently something that has escaped the early education of most middle class college students, which is what we primarily are. Now I know, we're all the poor version of middle class college students, because we're living in coops, not dorms or apartments or something more expensive. So I ask, how did the basic function of cleaning a bathroom manage to escape you? I know you didn't have live in maids or cleaning services. Did your parents not require you to do household chores? Or do your parents not know how to clean a bathroom either?

Now don't get me wrong. I love living in the coop. Best decision I ever made. ( Well maybe not the Best best decision, but right now, it makes the top five. I love having 40 other people around to keep me amused, and they take a lot of the work of day-to-day living off my shoulders. When we are on regular term I have dinner cooked and ready for me at 6pm every night of the week. And I never have to wash a dish. In return I cook one night for all of them, and I CLEAN THEIR FUCKING BATHROOM.

Okay. So this is a bathroom. I assure you, if you hadn't already noticed, that it is a filthy bathroom. you are going to clean it. First you will need to stockpile your arsenal with deadly cleaning supplies. This is biological warfare, this is not to be taken lightly. Whatever is growing in your bathroom knows you are coming to kill it, and it hates you for this. You will need rubber gloves, unless you have some of that new-fangled chemically impervious skin. You will want cleaning supplies such as Soft Scrub w/Bleach, Comet (the powder stuff), Windex. A product produced here in Michigan anyway, that I find particularly effective in nasty-ass bathrooms is called The Works tile and tub, or something along those lines. All these products will aid you in your endeavor. I suppose I should put in here something along the lines of a disclaimer reminding us all of the rather deadly nature of mixing ammonia and bleach, as it creates Chlorine gas, which really isn't good for you. You will also want things like a scrub brush and a mop and broom and sponges and those little green scrubby things that you get in the dish soap area of the grocery store. The green scrubby things are especially useful when it comes to those famed things such as "Soap Scum" and "Rust Stains." A couple of large plastic cups or a teakettle or a saucepan will probably also be useful. Second, you will want to put on shorts or roll up your pants. You will want to either remove your socks and go it barefoot, or you will want to put shoes on over your socks, otherwise they will end up soaked. Tie back your hair if you have it. Third you need to acquire a boom box.

Now you are prepared to begin. Lock yourself in the bathroom, throw open the windows, turn the fan on high speed, plug in your boom box and put in some Tunes. Crank the fuck out of that volume.

Take the shower curtains down and wash them, or purchase new ones. If you get the fabric nylon ones you can actually just toss them in the washing machine with the bathmats, which you also must wash. Preferably with lots of bleach

The Tub or Shower:

The important parts here are going to be mostly in the showerhead/faucet/drain area. The areas that stay wet longest. Soap scum is that weird dull gray stuff that builds up under wherever it is that you keep bars of soap in your shower. It feels nasty and it will sort of rub off if you rub your finger over it, although you've gotta push pretty hard, and leave a weird gray oily film on your fingertip. This is not a recommended activity. Rust stains are ORANGE, like Rust. Those are your primary targets here, and the all the black mold that has built up on the tile grout and the caulking, but you should still get the entire tub/shower area (Including the walls!) wet, thouroughly douse with SoftScrub or Comet or cleansing aid of choice (from here on CAOC), and scrub it down. I reccomend a circular motion using your entire arm, from the shoulder down. Get some leverage behind that sponge. If the soap scum/mold/rust doesn't come off with the first round, get everything wet again and let some CAOC sit on it for a while, and come back after you've done the toilet.

The Toilet:

Yes, you must clean the inside of the toilet bowl. Start by putting a great deal of CAOC into the toilet bowl. You can use one of those funny toilet brushes if you so desire, but you will get the toilet much cleaner if you suck it up (you are wearing rubber gloves after all) and use one of those green scrubbies to get under the rim of the toilet. Make sure you scrub all surfaces inside the toilet bowl, flushing the toilet may help here, giving you less water to slosh through in the deep areas. You must also WIPE DOWN THE OUTSIDE OF THE TOILET. There are many flat surfaces on a toilet which are often somewhat damp, due to that odd phenomenon known as the sweaty toilet. These surfaces make it their life's work to collect as much shed pubic hair and dead skin as they possibly can. They go to toilet conventions to show off their collections, awards are given, and while they are there they discuss the view of your large, pale, hairy ass, which they are privy to daily. So if you want to keep your ass in your pants, you'd better thwart your toilet’s hopes of ever making it to one of those conventions. Use a surface cleaner, like Windex - one of the things holding all that crud to the outside of your toilet is sure to be human urine, maybe even your own. And did I mention that you need to wipe ALL the surfaces? That means the top and bottom of the lid and seat (there's more than one reason why they're on hinges). That nasty-ass place behind the hinge on the seat, the outsides of the bowl, the spot around the floor bolts, the sides and front of the tank. A toilet is a complex and varied geometric object, so this may be difficult, it might tax your spatial reasoning skills – but remember, it is only a toilet! Do not allow yourself to be thwarted by a Toilet!

The Shower, Revisited:

Go back to the shower/tub. Scrub that baby, utilizing previously applied CAOC, add more water if necessary, you don't want all your soap running down the drain while you're trying to use it, but you need some water. You may have to actually get Inside the tub. You will need to apply Elbow Grease, as my grandmother would have been thrilled to tell you. You will also need to make sure you rinse the tub thoroughly once done scrubbing, or all your efforts will have been in vain. You want that sucka to shine like teeth in a toothpaste commercial, and this goal is within your grasp. Unless your tub is some freak color like maroon, or brown, or lemon yellow, in which case you want it to shine like umm, the blood of the innocents, or shiny brown things, or lemon meringue pie. I don't know. I can't deal with a lemony yellow tub right now. I do not approve of lemon yellow tubs.

Okay, so now we have a shiny clean tub and a shiny clean (and whipped into its rightful place, subservient to your ass) toilet. But is your bathroom clean? Nay.

The Sinks and Counters:

We left these to the last possible moment, because the sink is useful for sponge wetting and rinsing purposes. Put away anything that is currently residing on the counter. If it doesn't have a rightful home off of the counter, find it one. Clean using implements of destruction, CAOC, and life giving water. Pay special attention to the caulking areas where the sink basin meets the counter and the wall, and around the faucet and handles. If your caulk looks like it has the black plague or some other sort of highly contagious disease, you can actually pull it out and re-caulk, but this requires patience and foresight. Alternately it often works to cover the caulk over in a substantial layer of SoftScrub with bleach and let it sit for a couple of hours. Usually the bleach part of the SoftScrub will bleach out the mold. This of course applies to the tub as well. Wipe off all the toothpaste that your slobby roommates have spit on top of the faucet. Clean the handles themselves - you may cause the handles to spin in their intended fashion, turning the water on. Do not panic, you were intending to rinse the sink basin out anyway, remember?

The floor:

First you need to sweep the floor. Vacuum it if you own one. This is a very important step. Contrary to popular belief, putting water on human hair does not make it disappear; it actually tends to cause it to permanently adhere to ANYTHING it comes into contact with. Your sponge, your hand, your elbow, your big toe. You don't want a big gob of hair permanently stuck to your big toe, now do you? Once you have swept the floor, you must also wash it. If you have a ceramic tile floor, you probably ought to get down on your hands and knees with a scrub brush and actually scrub the floor with a dilute solution of CAOC and water. The likelihood of this happening, however, is very slim. If you have linoleum, don't bother, just use a mop. If your bathroom is carpeted you should track down your landlord/previous owner/real estate agent and shoot them. Anyway, you should wash the floor, (and for Christ’s sake, get behind the toilet. we all know how god hates it when you miss behind the toilet) with that mop water solution of CAOC and water. A little bit of Mr Clean in a lot of water works nicely, and you don't even have to rinse afterwards, if you're conservative with the soap. If you don't believe me about the mopping bit, do it anyway. And then, look at the mop water when you're done. If you're willing to drink it, soap aside, then you're one sick motherfuck.

If you have a laundry room utility sink, you can ditch the mop water there, otherwise it can go down the toilet and then with a flush or two your toilet is just as shiny as before. The toilet will swallow whatever you put in its mouth. Put away all your implements of destruction. Replace the bathmats and shower curtain.

Now that is a clean bathroom.

A word about scrubbing shower walls: While it is FABULOUS exercise for your upper arms and shoulders to get that real great circular scrubbing motion, I found a trick to prevent the imminent soreness, especially if you plan on using your arms for anything the next day. The broom. Particularly if you have one of those brooms with the long perpendicular crossbar type dealy at the end, but a standard ones will work also. Simply fill the bottom of the bathtub with a few inches of hot water and the CAOC (cleansing aid of choice)and repeatedly dredge the broom in the mixture and scrub the walls with the broom. Of course, still work any problem areas with the close contact hand and scrubbie method and dont forget to drain the tub and scrub it thoroughly as well. An added bonus here is that you get the broom really clean.

Another thing that comes in handy here when it comes to rinsing the walls, which i agree is key and all too often forgotten, is the shower massage head. If you have one of these handy things, remove the head from the setting and use it to blast all that CAOC off the walls on one of the higher water pressure settings.

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